Canine tip of the day – Choking

choking cartoon

Canine tip of the day – Choking

Choking & the Heimlich procedure
If your dog is choking, first try to see if you can sweep the mouth (without getting bitten!) and remove the object. If you can see the object, please try to put two fingers over the hump at the back of the tongue and “sweep” round and forward to get the object out.  Please DO NOT try to “pinch” the object as the object will skid away from you and go further down the throat (a little like trying to pinch a moist bar of soap on the edge).If you cannot, then administer Firm Back Slaps between the shoulders and around the rib-cage to try to dislodge the blockage.
As with humans, back blows work best if the dog’s head is BELOW the level of the diaphragm so if the ordinary back slaps have not worked, raise the dog’s back end by hooking one arm under his hips and raising him up like a wheelbarrow (if you have a large breed dog) of by holding him upside down around his waist if you have a medium breed.
Administering Back Blows (Large/Medium Breed)
Administering Back Blows (Large/Medium Breed)
If you have a small breed dog, try holding him upside down just above the hocks and administer the backblows while gravity is able to help you.  If this does not work, proceed to the Heimlich maneouvre.
Hold small breeds just above the hocks
Hold small breeds just above the hocks


If the backslaps have failed to help dislodge the blockage, you can proceed to the abdominal thrusts (sometimes referred to as the Heimlich Manoeuvre). Please be aware that this procedure (on a human or a dog) is very dangerous and you should ALWAYS seek professional attention if you have had to perform this due to the small but very real risk of a tear or possible internal bleeding.

Make a fist with one hand in such a way that the first joint on your thumb creates a point.

If you have a large breed dog, then simply stand over your dog facing his head, so that your knees grip him just in front of his back legs.


For a medium breed, have the dog sitting and facing away from as per the picture below.    Place your arms through and under his front legs tipping him backwards so that his front legs leave the ground.

first aid positions abdominal thrusts

For small breeds, you need to be standing or kneeling, holding the dog against you as per the picture below.

Hand positioning for abdominal thrusts - small breed
Hand positioning for abdominal thrusts – small breed

Fit your fist in the soft hollow of your dog’s chest just where the two sides of his ribcage meet and form a triangle.

Place your other hand flat up against your fist and administer 5 fast little digs upwards on a diagonal, whilst squeezing with your arms against the ribcage itself. It is not important to do the digs with a lot of power, more that you do them as very quick bursts.

Your aim is to gently “poke” the diaphragm with your thumb joint to cause a spasm type cough from your dog and hopefully expell the blockage.  If this does not work, revert to the back slaps and then back to the Heimlich Manoeuvre again.

So, the procedure is:-
Check & sweep the mouth
Administer back slaps
Administer Heimlich manoeuvre
Repeat this procedure 3 times. If you are still unsuccessful after the 3rd time, ‘phone your vet immediately and tell him you are on your way and continue the procedure if possible while en route. Even if you DO clear the blockage, you should still see your vet as there may be damage to the throat or mouth, internal damage because of the Heimlich Manoeuvre or possible shock due to over heating while struggling and oxygen deficit.
If your dog becomes unconscious:
revert to either CPR (if the heart has stopped)
or Artificial Respiration (if the heart is still beating)
Apart from the fun and entertaining stories, ALL of this life saving information on various topics can be found in the “Rhodes 2 Recovery … doggy style!” book, available from this website as a hard copy book, or to download NOW.


  1. Reply

    Highly recommended! Kerry Rhodes is one amazing crazy woman..knows her dogs, and takes the time to answer any questions…the world needs more people like Kerry!

    • Reply

      Aww Sue what a lovely comment to read! Thank you so much for your participation in the course in York at the weekend – we had a blast (Axl and & Chi enjoyed the buffet!). It was a bit of a slow foggy drive home, but Tyler and I enjoyed our time with everybody immensely

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